The Romans understood a thing or two about relaxing.
Anyone who’s been to Bath and seen the ornate Roman Baths there will know that lounging around in natural hot springs was seen by Julius Caesar et al as a necessity rather than an indulgence. In fact, salus per aquam, is Latin for ‘health through water’ and it’s where we get our word spa from.
Spa breaks have jumped in popularity in recent years as, like the Romans, we’re discovering the need to relax and pamper ourselves. But ‘taking the waters’ isn’t just a new fad in Spain’s sunny Murcia region. Those in the know have been visiting its myriad thermal and thalassotherapy spas for hundreds of years.
Even those who haven’t heard about the healing properties of Murcia’s sea and hot water springs flock to this fertile region of Spain, tucked between Valencia and Andalucia, for its dazzling Mediterranean sunshine, 170 km coastline and rich history.
Thalassotherapy is the Greek word for water therapy. Previous visitors to Murcia’s most famous tourist area, La Manga, may have spotted the shimmering waters of the Mar Menor, a unique lagoon cut off from the Mediterranean by a 22-kilometre long sandbar. But as well being home to water sports galore and protected wetlands which attract migratory birds from all over the world, the waters of the Mar Menor are high in curative minerals such as magnesium, calcium, sodium and bromide.
Splashing about in the waves is always fun, but the water here can help you feel better too. Soaking in the sea waters is ideal for treating things like exhaustion, arthritis and rheumatism, while breathing in the salty air is said to help with respiratory conditions like asthma.
If simply dipping in the waters doesn’t feel like you’re getting the full treatment, why not take it a step further by visiting a thalasso spa centre?
In San Pedro del Pinatar, only 15 minutes from Roda, there are three places to try:
Thalasia Hotel & Thalasso Center (Ctra. Del Puerto 327, Tel: +968 185 418),
next to the Mar Menor, purifies and pumps this special sea water into its numerous pools, fountains, jets and Jacuzzis. It offers various treatments from a simple soak for 12 Euros to a marine circuit (20 Euros), which takes 45 minutes and also includes a pebble corridor, ice cave and Turkish baths. Mud wraps, massages and salt scrubs using the local waters are also available.
Centro de Salud Vital Aguas Salinas (C/ Crucero Baleares 2, Tel: 968 184 136)
Talasoterapia Hotel Lodomar (C/ Río Bidasoa 1, Urb. Las Charcas, Tel: 968 186 802)
Head inland and to the north of the lively university city of Murcia, you’ll discover the spa towns of Archena and Fortuna, nestled among the region’s rolling hills.
Both towns are home to ancient springs, where water bubbles up the surface at a steady 52.5C. These spring waters are infused with a cocktail of goodness, having remained underground for approximately 15,000 years.
The sulfurate/sulphate/sodium/calcic waters are great for all sorts of ills from sports injuries, aches and sprains, to arthritis and skin conditions. Europeans spend several days ‘taking the waters’ having been prescribed by their doctors or physios back home.
The Spa Resort & Hotel Balneario de Archena (Ctra. Del Balneario, 30600 Archena. Tel: 968 688 022)
Located in the picturesque Ricote Valley, is only an hour’s drive to from Roda. Here you can indulge in a beauty treatment at the Beauty Farm or simply wallow in the different water pools in the Espacio Termalium. Treatments cost from 15 Euros for a thermal bath.
The Leana Balneario (C/Los Banos, s/n, 30630 Fortuna. Tel: 902 444 410)
Located near Fortuna, it was founded in 1837 although there is evidence that both the Romans and the Moors had used it in ancient times.
The magnificent buildings were renovated in the 1990s but it retains its air of historic grandure. It also has an array of hot baths, swimming pools (indoor and outdoor) and beauty therapies.
FOR A FREE SPA TREATMENT
Head for Lo Pagan to take in the famous mud baths. Next to San Pedro, it's just a 15 minute drive.
The mud is applied over the body and allowed to dry in the sun before being washed off in the salt waters.
The kids will love it! Getting dirty without being told off!
BUT take care - the mud stains so use an old swimsuit.
In Los Narejos you'll also find some mud at the far end of Los Narejos beach but it's not as well used or as much fun as at Lo Pagan.